by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
Is Starcraft back?
Starcraft, once the shining jewel amongst an already glittering collection of Blizzard games, has fallen on hard times in recent years. Just a few short years ago, it was the biggest eSport in the world. But since then, MOBAs have taken over the scene, and Starcraft has been left in the dust. Now, it seems like even Blizzard itself has shunned its former star, preferring to focus on the likes of Hearthstone, Overwatch, and its own MOBA, Heroes of the Storm. The lack of fanfare that has surrounded the release of Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void would have been unthinkable back in 2010.
However, Blizzard has not been neglecting Starcraft, not by a long shot. Legacy of the Void starts strong, and doesn’t let up through the entire campaign. Once again, the company has shown what it can do with smart, fast-paced strategy gameplay combined with visually exciting cinematic storytelling. Blizzard has been doing this for decades now, and it’s just as good as it’s ever been. Legacy of the Void is a fantastic game, and a great ending to the Starcraft II trilogy. Will it be enough to rekindle its dwindling player base though? The quality is there, but only time will tell.
Time for Protoss
Wings of Liberty had you playing as Terran, and Heart of the Swarm had you playing as the Zerg. So, in Legacy of the Void, it’s left to the Protoss to wrap up the story (although there will be more story DLC coming later down the line). We follow Protoss leader Artanis, and his trek across the galaxy to protect his people, who are under siege from all sides by Zerg and their new Zerg / Protoss hybrid masters.
The story is just as over the top and exciting as you would expect from the culmination of a trilogy that was already over the top to begin with. Huge, pivotal moments occur in nearly every mission. It’s like a combination of every sci-fi movie you have ever watched. Remember that time in that one movie when that character did that thing? Well, it probably happens in some form or another in Legacy of the Void. Somehow though, the story does all this while avoiding becoming cliché. There’s a lot of bombast, but there are some genuinely touching, and funny, moments in there as well.
Starcraft, just how you remember
As for the gameplay, it’s Starcraft, just how you remember it. It’s the same core formula as it’s been for years, but you shouldn’t try to fix what ain’t broke. Legacy of the Void avoids becoming repetitive by introducing new units and new mechanics with each passing mission. Of course if you have played the multiplayer in previous games, you will know how Protoss units work, and might be a bit bored by the limited offering of Zealots and Stalkers in the first couple of missions. However since this is a standalone product - you don’t need either of the first two Starcraft II games to play - the campaign serves as a gentle introduction to the race if you have never encountered it before.
There are a couple of new units though, and this is extended to the other races as well for the multiplayer. Protoss can now build Adepts, psionic infantry units that excel in taking out squishy ground targets, and Disruptors, a robotic unit that deals aoe damage. The Disruptor also has an ability called Purification Nova which deals bonus damage to foes, but you’ll have to line it up well because it will also deal friendly fire.
The Terrans have a new vehicle called the Cyclone which is good at dealing single target damage to big foes like the Zerg’s Ultralisk. They also now have the Liberator, which is useful against groups of air targets. However it can also transform into a ground based platform that is also handy against single targets.
Finally, the new Zerg offerings are the Lurker, which performs exactly how it sounds. It has to burrow before it can attack, and its high range makes it excellent at taking down defensive structures and small ground units. The Ravager is also a long range unit, hurling acid from a distance which is good at taking down force fields and structures. The new units for each race freshen things up a bit, and change the game enough that you will have to adapt how you play if you are used to the previous games.
A worthy end to the series
My days of playing Starcraft competitively are long behind me now, however that doesn’t mean I have to stop playing multiplayer. If you are like me and would rather team up with a friend than take them on in battle, there are a series of co-op missions. You choose from six heroes - each race has a ‘basic’ hero and a more advanced one to choose from - and join a friend (or stranger) over the Internet to play through a co-op mission that’s separate from the campaign. Performing well earns you experience, and your heroes will level up over the time, granting you access to new abilities.
Blizzard has its hands full with all sorts of games at the moment, yet it has found time to create yet another fantastic real time strategy game with Legacy of the Void. It’s just Starcraft, with some new additions here and there, but that’s all we were expecting, and it’s great. Even if you have never been interested in the series before, there’s a handy “what’s happened so far” video to watch if you want to catch up. Starcraft in any form has always been worth playing though, and hopefully its former fans will return to the fray for Starcraft II’s final outing.
An exciting end to an epic story. RTS gameplay just as good as ever.
If you didn’t like [i]Starcraft[/i] before, there’s not much here to draw you in.